tv Weekends With Alex Witt MSNBC January 17, 2016 9:00am-11:01am PST
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almost never spoke to each other. ultimately, that did not advance america's interests. over the years, iran moved closer and closer to having the ability to build a nuclear weapon. the united states has never been afraid to pursue diplomacy with our adversaries. as president i decided a strong, confident america could advance our national security by engaging directly with the iranian government. today i can report progress on a number of fronts. first, yesterday marked a milestone in preventing iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. iran has fulfilled key commitments under the new clear deal. this brings me to a second major development. several americans unjustly detained by iran are finally coming home. in some cases these americans faced years of continued detention. i've met with some of their families. i've seen their anguish. how they ache for their sons and husbands.
i gave these families my word. i made a vow that we would do everything in our power to win the release of their loved ones, and we have been tireless. >> three of those americans freed by iran are now on their way to switzerland and then germany. one other american involved in the swap may have stayed behind. a fifth american left iran yesterday. the president also said new tankses will be imposed onu ran over recent missile tests. ron allen is joining me from the white house. what else did we hear from the white house? >> reporter: a couple things. it's our understanding that those americans are going to land in geneva in a couple of hours is the word we've heard most recently. and that they are in good spirits and that everything is moving according to plan. it was also clear why there was a delay of them getting out of iran. and it seems there was a moment where it took to find jason rezaian's mother and his wife to get them aboard the plane as
well and to sort out some issues about them flying and a practical issue that the pilots who were manning the aircraft needed more rest because of their flight interval times. so there's that. the bottom line is they should be there in the next couple of hours. the president made some news in that he revealed a couple of other things happened. the united states and iran settled a huge amount of money, huge monetary claim in this tribunal in the hague. this is a bit complicated. but the bottom line is the united states is going to pay iran some $400 million, and on top of that $1 billion to settle these claims. while that sounds like a lot of money, the united states is doing that to avoid even greater liability. and the last thing i want to point out is that the president said they were now, the united states is now imposing sanctions on iran because of some ballistic missile test back in october and november. these are long-range missiles capable of flying hundreds if
not thousands of miles. this is a big concern to our allies in the region as well as the united states. here's what the president had to say about that. >> iran's recent missile test was a violation of its international obligations. and as a result, the united states is imposing sanctions on individuals and companies working to advance iran's ballistic missile program. and we are going to remain vigilant about it. we'll not waiver in the defense of our security or that of our allies and partners. >> reporter: the president also emphasizing there are still sanctions in place against iran for human rights violations, for support of terrorism and this missile test, this missile issue. so while they did get significant sanctions relief of $100 billion or so on the nuclear issue, there are still sanctions in place. and today by imposing these sanctions or upping these sanctions, the u.s. is trying to send a message to iran that, in fact, we're going to be vigilant about what you're doing going
forward. >> these sanctions being imposed are not being imposed on the iranian government but on specific individuals and companies that violated with this nuclear test -- with the missile ballistic test. is that right? >> reporter: indeed. but because the government runs the missile program and the supplies, money and so forth would support that endeavor indirectly or perhaps directly, they are imposed on the government. the sanctions are meant to stop the iranian army, military from getting and obtaining more ballistic missiles. that's the target of this. and the point is the united states is saying, we're still being vigilant even though we're giving you this relief on these other issues. >> ron allen at the white house, thank you for that. >> ali with a welcome to you, how do you think president obama's remarks will be received there? >> alex, i think they'll be received quite well.
we were out in the bazaar today interviewing people, talking to folks. they were happy about the deal. a lot of people here hope this would spell a new chapter in iranian-american relations. there's been so much animosity between these two countries since 1979. this whole nuclear deal, this direct talk between kerry and zarif has come as a bit of a surprise to people. if you look at the situation three years ago in iran and america there was talk of going to war. now the two sides are speaking directly with each other. that's given the iranian people a lot of hope. the sanctions over the last almost decade have been very difficult for the iranian people. they've felt isolated, withdrawn from the international community. and they feel this deal, this rapprochement, however light it might be with the united states, is a new beginning between the two countries. also we should be careful not to get ahead of ourselves. iran and america are opposed on many different issues in this
region and beyond. they see things very differently. as we saw today, president obama said we're still going to put pressure on iran on a number of different issues from syria and supporting terrorist groups, as well as the new sanctions on missiles. so although there's a warming of relations between the two countries, there's still a long way to go before it's anything like normal. >> but ali, the president was stressing the success of the diplomacy but also announced these new sanctions on iran over the ballistic test. what's the reaction you expect to that? >> we haven't had any reaction yet but i don't think the sanctions are going to come as a particularly big shock to the iranians if they haven't already been warned about them. we've seen there's been a lot of direct communications between zarif and kerry. there's been a lot of back channeling. none of us were aware these prisoners were being released. they're talking to each other about a number of issues. i'm sure this missile test had
come up as well and i think they probably told the iranians to expect this was happening. i'm sure iranians top tier military establishment and ruling theocracy are going to use it to lambaste america later and say look how bad our relationship ultimately is with these people. we can't get on with america, can't trust them and they'll always try and impose sanctions on us. there was a big deal here when iranians were included in that view visa waiver program and restrictions were imposed. a lot of iranians here said that's just another form of sanctions the u.s. is imposing on iran. so it's going to -- it's not going to go down well here, but there's so much going on. >> absolutely. there's a lot going on. thank you very much, ali, in tehran. >> one of the americans released is amir hekmati.
congressman dan kildee has been pushing for his release. representative kildee is joining me. congressman, i'm curious about your reaction when you heard the americans were going to be released. >> well, it was a moment of great relief. we've been working on this for many years in a lot of different ways. some very public. some quite tryst. and to actually hear that amir hekmati was with our allies, our friends, the swiss, and he was going to be coming home, i was driving when his sister called me. i thankfully did not run off the road. but it was quite a moment. >> his sister, both she and her husband were your guests at the state of the union. with the family during so much of this past stressful time. you've tweeted out some pictures of them. can you just summarize briefly what this has been like for them? >> well, it's been such a difficult road.
and emotional and painful period. their father is quite ill. and that's obviously one of the things that makes this so much more important that he's coming home. it's been 4 1/2 years. a 4 1/2-year nightmare for them to have to go through this and at once had a death sentence against amir. to get the relief and knowledge that not only is amir coming home but he's going to be come home and reunited with his ailing father is a long time coming but it's going to be a happy moment. >> i can imagine. i'm curious about your take on the timing here. why now and not sooner? >> well, obviously, we've been pressing for this for a very long time. the channel for direct negotiation was very difficult until the iran nuclear negotiations. until the p5+1 which allowed for both sidebar discussions but as i knew and now we all know a
separate channel of negotiation regarding these consular-type issues. so the moment occurs because there has been a level of engagement with iran that we've not had for over 30 years. thankfully it led to the release of these americans. took too long for sure but we're glad the day has finally come. >> so i mentioned you're heading to germany. when is that happening? what about the family? when are they getting there and i'm curious. will there be any psychological support, counseling support for the family in the wake of all of this? >> well, i will be traveling with the family. we're on the same flight. we've almost become family during these past years. we're going over together. we arrived in germany early tomorrow morning and hopefully we'll see amir soon thereafter. we're hopeful that a complete medical exam and also obviously this being an incredibly emotional distressing experience that amir has been through.
we hope he gets all of the support. we're confident that the united states government is going to stand with him and get him whatever he needs to come home and return to life as a great young man. >> all right. well, michigan democratic congressman dan kildee. i guess congratulations are in order. thank you for your time with us on msnbc. and safe travels. >> thank you so much. for more reaction i'm joined by shoard. they were detained and wrote about their ordeal in "a sliver of light." it's great to talk to you about this. your reaction when you heard about the announcement of the prisoners release. how did you feel? >> just incredible joy. tears of joy. i feel like i know jason and amir and saeed. i've been walking alongside them
and i walked in their shoes. i know exactly what they've been through and what lies ahead for them. >> what was their life like on a daily basis? >> i mean, all of them underwent years of -- not years, but long periods, some years of solitary confinement. i was in solitary confinement the entire time, over a year i was imprisoned. the worst part of it is you have no idea if or when it will ever end. up until the very last moment when i was told i was being released, i knew something could go wrong and i'd end up back in that cell. so even though this is incredibly important step and it's amazing that it's finally happening, prisoner swap is a great, is the right thing to do, the right moment for it. i asked president obama myself to do it for us five years ago, and at that time it wasn't politically viable. it was the right thing to do then, too. and it didn't happen.
i'm glad it's happening now. this triumph of diplomacy is really setting a good precedent for the future. >> when you were released, sarah, how did you process what was going on? and was it overwhelming to you for a while? >> yeah. it took years to really -- i'm still processing. it's a life-changing event. and it gives you in some ways a perspective that no one else, that nothing else could. and it's something that you carry around with you forever. i think that it's really important for people to just give them the choice to deal with this moment and live this life to the fullest. if they want to speak to the media they should be aallowed to say what they want to say. it was very difficult for me to be around people. i was forced to because my husband and friend were still there. i was in the lumlight for a year
advocating for them. everyone is different but the most crucial thing is when you're in prison, you have no choice. the most essential thing about you as a human being is taken away from you. today that's being given back to these men. no one is talking about the seven iranians being released from u.s. jails. those people didn't do anything wrong either. they didn't deserve to be imprisoned. i'm incredibly happy for them. this is a beautiful moment. >> i want everyone to know if you can see a side screen there, we want to let everyone know that plane has landed, everyone. the americans who have been freed are now on terra firma in geneva, switzerland. they are free, which is -- that's got to be something, sarah. take me through that. we've seen films. "argo" comes to mind. when you know you have left iranian air space, not to mention being on the ground where you'll get off that plane
and be reunited with loved ones and support, what is that moment like when you know you are out of there? >> i just knew that i would never have to go back. and that that experience was always be behind me and always a part of me. but i would never have to live it again. and to be -- the first thing i saw when i got off the plane was my mother, and it was just the rest of the world dropped away. nothing else existed for me but her. we held each other. i looked in her eyes and it was one of the most beautiful moments of my entire life. it's also the beginning of a struggle. it really is a hard thing to come back from. and i really hope that saeed and amir and jason reach out to people. i'm available. other people that have lived it can really help you feel you aren't alone. you aren't -- what you are
feeling and experiencing is normal. it can be -- it was hard for me, but all that time, all i wanted was to be around people. then i got out and it was hard to be touched and hard to look in people's eyes. everyone reacts differently. there are some things that are just -- you feel ashamed of, but they're normal. they've been through a lot. i'm so glad they're home. >> it is 6:17 in the evening there in geneva and that plane has landed. so they will all be deplaning at some point shortly. talk about the process, sarah. i know the details in your situation were slightly dchbt. i believe it was an emissary from the sultan of ahman that helped facilitate it. you go through customs or something. are you whisked into something much more private, you know, are there journalists there? what is it like? >> well, that's just the thing. you are whisked around. and microphones put in front of
you, and i spent the last 36 hours because i knew i might be released, rehearsing what i was going to say in the media. often people come out and have something to say and they have a right to say it. as far as the u.s. government, it was really the ammani government that handled the release and i just wanted to be with my family. for some people, it's -- there was a medical check and that's important because i had some medical concerns while i was in prison, and it was a relief to know that i was fine and healthy, but -- physically. but the deeper, psychological. solitary confinement is psychological torture. it can cause lasting permanent brain damage. and the emotional impact is impossible to quantify. it's something that you bury very deep yourself this feeling of being just forsaken, forgotten, thrown away and not knowing if you'll ever get it
back. and not having done anything wrong in the first place but still feeling punished and hated and despised. that's something that it may take years before a person is ready to really address those deeper issues but it's very important to do that in order to move forward in your life in a healthy way. one of the things that these men have going for them is they are in a position to have a voice and to be a part of the conversation in a positive way. this is an amazingly positive moment. i'm hopeful that will help them, too. jason's writing is -- he's an amazing journalist and i'm sure he'll continue to contribute in a constructive way. >> something he can do, almost a cathartic measure for him. for you and your book a sliver of life, the three americans imprisoned in iran. as i listened to you and you talk about the psychological trauma that you endured, to what do you attributior successful
recovery because sarah talking with you, you would never know that you endured something like this. you are so articulate and so honest and so clear about what happened. how did you get better, so well? >> i still dream that i'm back there. it's not gone. like i said, it's something you hold very deep. and people said that to me when i first got out that i looked great. oh, you're fine. it doesn't matter how you look on the outside. something essential about what it means to be human that's violated when you are removed from the world. and when everything that you love and everyone that you love is taken from you and you don't know if you'll ever get it back. so it's hard to say the one thing, but i think that i have so much love and so much support and i have taken the time to come back from this to make sense of it. everyone is going to do that in
a unique way, but it does take time. i still have serious ptsd for years. and i don't have most of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress but it's always going to be a part of who i am and part of my story. i use it to motivate me for the work i do in the world and to advocate for others and expose injustice. >> which is, i think, why you have garnered so much admiration for your efforts. sere ai i'd like you to stay with us. we're going to be joined by mazari who was also held captive in iran 118 days. 107 of which were in solitary confinement. also part of the best-selling memoir and subject of the fuilm "rose water." what are these freed americans going through right now? >> well, i think they have gone through a lot of stress, as
sarah said. some of them have been in solitary confinement for a long time. i would like to ask -- i would like to use this opportunity to ask my colleagues in the media to leave these guys alone. they have been under a lot of stress. so the last thing they want to do is to do interviews for now. let them just be with their families, relax, maybe write an article. i'm sure jason will write an article in a couple of weeks, in a month, in a couple of months, and let them be with their families, and then they will be coming to the media and talk to them as part of their therapy, part of the healing process. >> do you agree with that? you said oftentimes people want to speak, make statements. but of their own volition and not necessarily respond to reporters' questions. >> i do believe everyone is different. when i came out, i had a burning desire to use the media as a way to advocate for my husband and
friend because every second of my freedom meant nothing while they were there. when you are in prison, all of your choice is taken away from you. you can't decide when you go to the bathroom. you can't open a window or say happy birthday to your friend. they have that back. they are free men, and they can decide what they do with that. >> what was the first thing that you did when you were released and had your freedom? what were the first things that went through your mind? >> well, i wanted to talk to my wife, who was pregnant at the time. so i wanted to have a comfortable conversation with her, not in front of my interrogator, of course, who was with me for 118 days. so i wanted to -- and then i wanted to just, as sarah said, go to the bathroom without
asking the guard to go to the bathroom. and then i can tell you a funny story about what happened on the plane. i was on the plane from iran to london, tehran to london and the seat next to me was empty so i was watching the movie "hangover" and i had the movie map on the other screen. and as soon as we crossed the iranian air space from iran to turkey, i asked for a double whiskey, and then it was very strange because many people came to me. people who were afraid of talking to me while we were in iranian air space came to me and congratulated me and asked about my family. it was surreal. and that moment that the airplane crossed the iranian air space. as we were watching the footage of the plane landing, i'm sure it's surreal moment for all
those three iranian americans who are on that plane. >> i can imagine. go ahead, sarah. >> oh, i'm sorry. what did you want me to add? >> i thought you were going to make a comment to that as well. i think the "hangover" is a pretty funny way to be reintroduced to american cultural films. that certainly took your mind off your own problems. so you were -- a commercial plane. i can't tell if this has been a chartered plane. my executive producer can let me know. it looks like something between a regular sized a320 and a small private plane, but if other people were on the plane with them, what do you think that was about? the fact that people would not come and talk to you until after being out of iranian air space?
what's that about? >> it's fear. the iranian government arrested these people and many of our other friends who are still in prison, and we just have to remind ourselves that these five iranian americans who were released -- one american, four iranian americans, one american, were released yesterday, but dozens of journalists, dozens of activists and hundreds of other innocent people are still in prison now. what the iranian government wants to do now is to instill fear in people. so iranian people are afraid. the islamic republic of iran is basically the republic of fear. people are afraid of their government. so the iranian people on the plane with me were afraid to come and talk to me freely. as soon as we crossed iranian air space they take off their veils. many women take off their veils and feel free to talk as well.
>> how much do you -- >> i'm curious and then sarah, i'll have you react. how much do you think that's an analogy of the reality of the iraqi citizens and the way they approach all of this? do you think that many of the people there feel as if they are living in a repressed regime or do you think they support their government and the repressive way they run things? >> i think there is a significant minority that support the regime. these are the people who vote voluntarily for the conservative, for the hard line candidates on a regular basis. there are -- their number is about 5 million to 8 million depending on different elections. so it's a significant minority. but like many other countries, the silent majority are not happy with the situation. at the same time, they look around the region. they look at the situation in afghanistan, the situation in
iraq, in libya, in syria, and they do not want to emulate those models. so they want to have the peace and security, relative peace and security that they have now, and not have sudden regime change. people are not happy with this government now, but that doesn't mean that they are going to have a revolt tomorrow in order to topple the government. >> my executive producer informed me this is a swiss air force plane. so that would be an experience closer to sarah's in that it had sort of a private nature to it. probably not the "hangover" nor double whiskey to start playing as soon as you finish leaving iranian air space. if that is the case, and if these five were sitting with their thoughts, what do you think wrran through their mindss they were leaving the air space and getting ready to go to
geneva and face all that happens ahead? is it more reflective on what's happened or processing the present or looking to the future? >> i mean, just 10,000 things. i was sitting across the sultan of oman. he'd been negotiating our case for over a year. and he put his steak in front of me and there was perfume. he was trying to ask me what i needed, what did i want? what did i feel? i just said i feel completely numb. i feel nothing. and you know, it took days before the tears of joy came because you -- i had been shut down for so long and didn't allow myself to feel anything. all i could feel was just -- i just, is this really real? is this really happening? >> and your joy was compromised because shane and josh were still there.
so at what point -- did you never really feel that exhilaration and complete joy and peace and level of contentment until they were released? >> no, i didn't. i mean, i tried. maybe let myself feel it for that first moment or two holding my mother and looking into her eyes. even in that moment in the back of my mind i thought, how am i going to get them out. this is an incredibly historic moment, a triumph of diplomacy. i want to react to something that was just said. nobody is giving credit to the iranian people. for decades the iranian people have been pressuring their government, fighting for human rights and democracy and normalization and laying down their lives. when i was in prison, if they had a chance when they saw me in the hallway, they'd push past the guards and throw their arms
around me. iranians have been fighting for this for a very long time and deserve this victory. >> you've written about the fact you made friendships with your fellow prisoners, even with some of the guards. there was a certain understanding. >> i don't know if you can call it a friendship with a guard. it's not on equal terms, but -- >> that's true. >> -- but there were guards that had empathy for me that felt very bad about what they were doing to me. i had been in solitary confinement longer than any other woman in the prison at that time. and some of the guards told my interrogators, you can't keep her alone. she's losing her mind. there were times i completely lost control and beat at the walls of my cell, screamed, didn't eat for days. but i always was able to pull myself back because i had that hope. i knew that most likely there was going to be a way that i was
going to get out of there. but the guards sort of have to play a very -- they have to control you, but they also can't completely numb themselves to the inhumanity they're witnessing. >> we have been looking at the live pictures, everyone, and it would seem that they have disembarked from the plane and that they've been taken on what looked like some sort of a bus. and taken to another building. we're not getting a play-by-play as with all of this. it has sort of evolved. we've had to catch as catch can with some of the details and the facts. but it would seem that they've gotten off the plane unless this push-in shot by the camera man at the geneva airport is trying to indicate something different. we watched a bus there leaving and we'd like to think they've already gotten off that plane and are able to be inside a terminal and starting to get to some level of normalcy and just
walk freely through a hallway, something that would be a new experience. so that is what we were just looking at. and presumably that is what is happening right now. of course as we get the absolute details. thank you. we'll speak more about you with when we'll speak to you again. but i'm going to germany where keir simmons is standing by. that is where the americans are supposed to be headed from where they are now in geneva. do you expect them there soon? have you gotten any intelligence on how long they'll be in geneva before heading to germany? >> the honest answer is, no. stunning, isn't it? it's appropriate that i'm standing here in germany, the climax of this historic weekend. we're looking at something like a cold war-style prisoner exchange in switzerland. what we do think is those american prisoners will be brought here to this u.s.
medical facility. the biggest outside the united states and here they will be looked at in terms of medical condition, but also in terms of their psychological condition. they'll be debriefed if you like, despite the fact they are civilians. they'll be debriefed here. although this is a military facility, that they are used to welcoming civilians in this kind of situation, helping them through the first few days. we can expect at the same time they'll try to get them in here and out again and heading home as quickly as possible because already through the day we've heard the families of these men celebrating through social media and through statements at their release and saying how much they are looking forward to seeing them. the newspaper, "the washington post," jason rezaian, the correspondent from tehran, that newspaper saying how much they look forward to celebrating and having him back in the newsroom,
while at the same time poignantly marking in their statement that they believe that he was very badly treated. an important point because amidst all this celebration and talk about the rapprochement between washington and tehran, that statement from "the washington post" just suggesting that they believe that their journalist was not treated well whilst in iran. that's the kind of thing they'll be trying to establish here at this facility, trying to find out how they were treated and, of course, at the same time in a humanitarian sense, helping them trying to make -- help them with the kind of potential psychological damage that they may have suffered because some of these men have been in prison in iran for years. >> and keir, you've done some inquiries into the medical treatment they'll get at the landstuhl center. how long will that be getting their physicals and deeming how
healthy or unhealthy they are. is that a matter of days, hours? any idea? >> we can only go on what we've seen in the past. we don't know is the honest answer. i am only guessing. i would say it would be days. but it may not be as long as that. again, i think the point is they will want to try to move them on as quickly as possible. by the way, we're talking about the expectation. so much of this has been clouded in secrecy through the day. we can't say for sure they're going to arrive here until they do. it's been a dramatic day. there was a delay, it appeared. we waited for hours expecting them to leave iran. one of the suggestions is that it was just a simple question of crew flight times. that may have been the reason. perhaps on the other hand, another reason may be that as
you will now have reported to your viewers, a number of times, there is one prisoner who hasn't traveled with them who appears to have decide to stay in iran. that's another stunning aspect. why he chose to do that, we cannot but u.s. officials making clear that is his choice to stay in iran if that's what he wants to do. >> okay. keir simmons at landstuhl. thank you for that. and for all of you, we'll continue following the fate of these americans, all five of them having been released. we know that they are on terra firma. now in geneva and we presume inside of a terminal and going through some sort of processing. meantime, tonight is the final debate for the democrats before the iowa caucuses and new hampshire primary. coming up, how the candidates are gearing up for the big night. but now, i step on this machine and get my number which matches my dr. scholl's custom fit orthotic inserts.
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into iran's nuclear program. today international inspectors are on the ground and iran is being subjected to the most comprehensive, intrusive insp t inspection regime ever negotiated to monitor a nuclear program. >> that was president obama speaking about two hours ago. let's bring in mark ginsburg. he took part in secret negotiations to free iranian hostages back in 1980. with a welcome to you. first of all, your reaction to the president's remarks. is this a good day? >> it is a good day. it's a great day for the families, of course, and those of white house have known hostages in iran and are well aware of the horrific conditions under which iranian hostages are held in avian prison in tehran. particularly for "the washington post" reporters and others. it's a great day and long overdue. the president deserves a congratulations for whatever may have been the reasons why this hand. as part of all of this outreach,
this resulted in this day. >> we've spoken many times on this braoadcast. you've been a critic of the iran deal in the past. does that at all change the equation for you? >> no, because in the end we're really at the beginning of what is essentially a ten-year process. while i've indicated there was no viable alternative to the iran agreement, what i'm most concerned about is not necessarily the implementation of the agreement and failure of potential snap-back sanctions. it's the fact we're looking at a completely new dimension in the middle east. iran is on the ascendancy. the iranians perceive the united states as withdrawing from the middle east. the question is, who is the next president going to be, and who that -- and what is that next president going to do to safeguard the implementation of this agreement and ensure that our allies in the middle east will protect it. you have to go beyond the agreement to understand how
complicated the agreement sits on much to iran's long-term interest to have shiite control in the region. >> in terms of long-term, your criticisms, one of them, has been with the long-term range on all of this because the deal opens the possibility of iran to resume its nuclear program in ten years, i believe. so this is also opened up new and historic diplomatic lines between these two countries. isn't it necessary, mark, to engage in direct dialogue, to ensure iran never produces a nuclear weapon? >> absolutely. i have never quarrelled at all. diplomacy is the best course of action here. the idea we cannot deal with the state sponsor of terror in iran. the big gamble here is the president is rolling the dice. he so far has good reasons to believe the dice roll is going to at least result in some immediate positive impact. $155 billion in sanctions
relief. the iranians can either put that to good use or bad use or both. the fact of the matter is the iranians have a very repressive regime. they support terrorism. they are determined to, in effect, continue their struggle against strisrael. they are fighting our sunny allies in the region. they desire to extend the persian empire. what is the united states policy going to do and can we look beyond the iran agreement to ensure that our interests remain intact while the iranians avail themselves of the great bargain they negotiated for themselves. >> how about diplomatically and historically. is this not a remarkable accomplishment for president obama? >> this is a remarkable accomplishment and the fact we've been able to get the iranians to postpone a nuclear agreement -- postpone the construction of a nuclear bomb for ten years. and the one thing here is important for americans to understand. this is very good.
it was the only viable alternative. but it has a ten-year cap. what happens after ten years, in the next president or two presidents after that remains to be seen. i have no illusions about the iranians. they are a repressive military dictatorship. until we see democracy emerging in iran, let's assume for the sake of the american people that the iranian regime has to be held to account and there can be zero tolerance. in fact, today, alex, may i add that just while all of this was happening, the united states slapped additional sanctions on iran for violating u.n. security council resolutions with respect to missile tests that are legal under this agreement. so it's not something we can just paint a broad picture and say everything is fantastic. here they are violating just as they are violating their own agreement while releasing the hostages. >> per the president's statement, he made it clear there will be 24/7 eyes on iran
and all of its nuclear activities. so clearly that needs to be the case. and will be so. mark ginsburg, good to see you as always. let's go to politics. hillary clinton is responding to criticism after calling for new sanctions on iran. shane bauer who was imprisoned for two years tweeted, when i was in prison in iran, whenever i heard hillary's voice, my heart sank. seriously, why would hillary call for more sanctions now? as far as we know, four of the americans are still in iran. totally irresponsible. here's clinton's reaction to bauer's tweet this morning. >> i appreciate what he went through when he was held prisoner in the infamous iranian prison, and we were very happy we were able to get him and the two other hikers back home. but we have a very clear path we are pursuing with iran.
i'm proud of the role i played in getting that agreement in place but as president, i will enforce it. >> joining me, jeremy pareters. even if she's trying to get ahead of the republicans, what constituency do you think she's speaking to and overall what is her political calculation by calling for these new sanctions? >> if you listen to some of the things hillary clinton has been saying about america's role in the world and in stopping the spread of isis and terrorism, she doesn't sound all that different on certain key points than the republicans do. for example, the no-fly zone in syria she supports. a lot of republican candidates support that. increased sanctions on iran. things you hear marco rubio saying. it's a bit puzzling considering her trouble right now in the democratic primary is with those base voters who find this tough talk repellent. >> what do you think? as much as she's calling for new sanctions, might she play this
during tonight's debate and highlight her diplomacy as secretary of state? >> i think so. that is the safe card for her to play. every time bernie sanders is interviewed and asked about his weaknesses, almost the first one that comes up is his grasp of foreign policy. so you listen to the interview he did this morning on cbs "face the nation" and john dickerson said how do you expect to match her qualifications on national security. and he doesn't have a great answer for that because as somebody who spent years in the house and years in the senate, he wasn't all that deeply involved in foreign affairs on the committees. >> you mentioned marco rubio and seems like he's doubling down on the rhetoric to describe this deal. let's listen to that. >> these people are hostages. the people america is releasing, they were convicted in a court of law after due process of helping violate sanctions. the president has pardoned them in exchange for a release of
hostages which had done nothing wrong. it proves once again nations and enemies of america know there's a price for american. if you take an american hostage, barack obama will cut a deal with you. >> how does this reshape the debate on the campaign trail and how much can republicans capitalize on all these developments as some sort of negative on the president and even on hillary clinton? >> marco rubio is trying to thread a needle there that a lot of the republican candidates are also struggling with right now. and that is how to not sound dark, gloomy and despairing while acknowledging the fact that there are real agenciy aged fears out there. his aspirational appeal. the fact he has ultimately an optimistic forward-looking vision. but what he's doing there, i think, is a little bit tricky because he's basically saying, look. our leaders are stupid.
who have we heard that from. they don't know what they are doing and they are putting americans in harm's way. so how do you acknowledge those anxieties americans have while also not appearing to give in to that fear? that's a real struggle for him and other candidates as well. >> jeremy peters, always good to talk to you. more from president obama and his remarks on the iran deal. let's take a listen. >> to my fellow americans, today we're united in welcoming home sons and husbands and brothers who in lonely prison cells have endured an absolute nightmare. they never gave in and never gave up. they can stand tall and breathe deep the fresh air of freedom. >> even as he hails the iran deal, the presidential candidates are picking it apart on the campaign trail. joining me now with more on that, former rnc chairman michael steele and former vermont governor and dnc chair, howard dean.
good to see you both. it's a big day for conversation. michael, i know there are plenty of critics from the gop side of this deal. as an american, do you find today to be remarkable, this reopening of dialogue with iran? >> i do. look, we can stay at the bellicose edges of diplomacy and politics all day long. at the end the day you have to get something done and move the ball. i'm not a fan of this iran deal. it will bode for a lot of problems down the road and present a lot of problems to the next administration. for right now at least the dialogue has been created. there's a window of opportunity to expand that communication into other areas and use the carrot and stick approach and diplomacy effectively over the next few years. >> howard, your take on this day in history? >> i agree with michael. horrors, horrors. >> come on. >> look, i think, first of all,
i think hillary, of course she's going to call for more sanctions. that's what the president is doing. these sanctions have nothing to do with the nuclear deal. this is a separate set of sanctions. and it's against the corporations, many of them western and some american, no doubt, that have helped the iranians get ballistic missiles. the only person that really understands foreign policy in this entire race is hillary clinton. she's not trying to outbellicose the republicans. they have no idea what they're talking about. i can't believe that marco rubio stood up there ande ed ssaid, i been up there i would have left them in prison another four years. nobody understands this stuff except hillary. i wasn't particularly for this deal, but i think president obama, so far this deal is working well, and he deserves some credit for it. >> michael, does nobody understand it but hillary? >> no, i like howard's take on
that, but i don't agree with it. i think that there are different views and different approaches. the idea of letting hostages sit is not one that's tenable with the american people. but i think you also have to be careful what you put on the table. to bring those hostages home. and to move the ball diplomatically. i think in the case of this administration, they put too much on the table. they expect too much from iran. iran's history is not one of diplomatic cohesion, but disruption. so i don't think this longer term play is going to play to the administration's liking down the road. so, yeah, you make the deal now, but you have to be careful what you put on the table. we put too much on the table in return for what we got. iran moved because it was over $100 billion sitting there on the table that they wanted in their bank accounts this week, and that had to happen, which is
why they moved the way they did. >> branching out a bit. governor, "the new york times" is quoting clinton advisers saying she's underestimated bernie sanders. do you agree? >> no. and i know that for a fact because i -- as soon as bernie got in the race, i called him and suggested strongly that they not underestimate bernie. he's a tough candidate. he speaks in a way that's appealing to people. i don't think they did underestimate bernie. i don't know where "the times" story is coming from and it's all anonymous sources, which is always a problem. i don't think she underestimated bernie at all. this is a close race. the economic issues are important. in the end other i think hillary is going to win and win iowa and new hampshire. >> i think 25 points over bernie sanders. another detail with the nbc news/"wall street journal" poll.
it shows bernie sanders outperforms clinton when they go head-to-head. each of them singularly, against donald trump. does this suggest he may be the better general election candidate than whom you are supporting? >> i don't think so. but we don't know. these kinds of polls are relatively meaningless. until you have the candidates in the ring, you don't really know. these are all hypothetical. i do think there's some -- the polls for iowa and new hampshire are accurate and show it's a close race in both states. after you get further out from there, with 11 on the republican side and 3 on the democratic side, i don't think these polls mean very much. >> is this what the gop establishment is worried about? donald trump can potentially win the gop nomination but doesn't stand a chance against either of the two leading democrats. he's down by ten points against hillary clinton and down by 15
against bernie sanders. >> i agree with howard in terms of the hypothetical aspect of this. in fact, bernie sanders beating donald trump is very hypothetical. folks have to be high. just don't see that happening in a real world scenario. that's my take. at the end, though, we'll get a better sense of where the electorate is when we start the voting in iowa. all these national polls don't tell you anything. it's what the boots on the ground, the folks in the voting booths are going to do that allow you a better picture or begin to put together the picture of how this election is going to unfold. >> i want to get the latest from your republican insider friends. is there a resignation that donald trump could be the gop nominee? >> there are a lot of folks that aren't sleeping too well at night. i find it rather amusing.
>> gentlemen, thanks so much. the democratic candidates debate airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern on nbc. we'll be right back.on but i keep it growing by making every dollar count. that's why i have the spark cash card from capital one. i earn unlimited 2% cash back on everything i buy for my studio. ♪ and that unlimited 2% cash back from spark means thousands of dollars each year going back into my business... that's huge for my bottom line. what's in your wallet?
hello, everyone. welcome. it's 1:00 p.m. in the east. 10:00 a.m. out west. several reports say three americans released from iran have just arrived in geneva. they are expected to be flown to a u.s. air base in germany. they were among five americans released from iranian custody following yesterday's implementation of the iran deal. and president obama lauded the nuclear deal and the release of the americans as a victory for diplomacy. >> this is a good day because once again we're seeing what's possible with strong american diplomacy. for decades our differences with iran meant our governments almost never spoke to each other. ultimately that did not advance america's interests.
over the years iran moved closer and closer to having the ability to build a nuclear weapon. the united states has never been afraid to pursue diplomacy with our adversaries. as president i decided a strong, confident america could advance our national security by engaging directly with the iranian government. i can report progress on a number of fronts. first, yesterday marked a milestone in preventing iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. u ran has fulfilled key commitments under the deal. this prinbrings me to a second r development. several americans are finally coming home. in some cases these americans faced years of continued detention. i've met with some of their families. i've seen their anguish, how they ache for their sons and husbands. i gave these families my word. i made a vow that we'd do everything in our power to win the release of their loved ones,
and we have been tireless. >> the remarks were not all congratulatory, though. the president also said new sanctions will be imposed over recent missile tests. keir simmons is in sermgermany e the released americans may be headed. they've reportedly landed in geneva. have you gotten any updates on if and when they are traveling your way? >> reporter: just as we've been watching those stunning pictures from geneva of those planes on the tarmac, something like a cold war prisoner exchange seeing those u.s. prisoners, as we believe that's who they are in the pictures, tasting freedom for the first time having been released from that iranian prison. the wife of one of the former prisoners, saeed abedini. she's tweeting, saeed just landed in geneva. he is getting ready to leave to
germany. i should talk to saeed in just a few hours. thank you for your prayers. as far as she is suggesting, those u.s. prisoners are to be moved from switzerland to here in germany to this u.s. medical facility where they will be helped, really, through medical checks, psychological checks. of course, there will just be the humanitarian side of trying to establish how much psychological damage may have been done. certainly "the washington post" in its celebration of its reporter who has been released, jason rezaian, it is suggesting that he wasn't treated very well while he was held in iran. so that's the kind of thing that u.s. officials will want to go through carefully with each of them here at this medical facility to help them and also to understand more because every opportunity like this is a chance to gather intelligence,
if you like, about iran. and so that will all happen here. we think that's the expectation before finally these men get to go home. >> we think it but it would seem that tweet from saeed's wife which popped up just before you took to the camera, that would indicate, we presume u.s. officials have let her know about her husband's plans and where that will be going. saeed abedini's wife tweeting he's in geneva and that he will be getting ready to leave germany but she has not spoken with him. when it comes to landstuhl, you can only go by past experience but the amount of time they'll have to spend there getting evaluated, chronicling what's happened to them, probably giving statements and then wondering about what treatment they need going forward, that can take a matter of hours, or days? what do you expect? >> i guess in a sense it takes as long as it takes.
we do understand, we do believe that some family members are already with these former u.s. prisoners. just going back to your question. how long does it take? well, all we can go on really is history is what we've seen here before. it can take days. but the folks here at the same time will be very aware that what the people they are dealing with, what they'll want to do is just to get home as soon as possible. by the way, being here does, i guess in a sense, provide a little bit of a sanctuary. these guys are going to come home to quite a welcome. and a lot of attention. and just having a chance to breathe, if you like, may be a real blessing for them before they do make that journey back to the united states. and just on that, alex, there's another pretty stunning story. one of the prisoners saying, it appears, that he didn't want to travel on this trip. that he has decided to stay in
iran. u.s. officials making clear if he wants to do that, then that is his choice. he is, after all, a free man and is allowed to go about his life in any way that he chooses. and another we think has already been released and may not be with this group. so we think there are three of them out of the five that have been released. three of them that will come here, and then as we have been saying, will make the journey to go back to their families and loved ones. >> i understand that making up the five released americans, that would be jason's wife and mother that are also on board that plane. that makes the five americans. keir simmons at landstuhl. let's go to ron allen joining me from the white house. the president spoke about 2 1/2 hours now since he took to the podium in the white house. what else did he say aside from the congratulations about the diplomacy being effective and welcoming the release of these
americans? >> reporter: i think part of his message was that diplomacy had many rewards. that this effort to stop iran from getting a nuclear weapon was the start of this. but there are many other benefits that have come as a result of talking to america's adversaries over there. for example, the release of the sailors held when they strayed into iranian waters a few days ago. there's also a dispute the united states has with iran involving money that was frozen before -- when the sanctions went in place in the 1970s, early '80s. there's been a tribunal trying to settle those multibillion-dollar disputes. some progress made there. of course, the prisoner exchange is something that the administration says is a result of the nuclear talks as well, although they continue to say it was a separate track that started some 14 months ago that gained momentum once the nuclear deal was done. also today the president announced there are new sanctions going to be imposed on iran because of its missile
program. here's what the president had to say about that. >> iran's recent missile test was a violation of its international obligations. and as a result, the united states is imposing sanctions on individuals and companies working to advance iran's ballistic missile program. and we are going to remain vigilant about it. we'll not waiver in the defense of our security or that of our allies and partners. >> reporter: this is a huge concern for the united states. iran has one of the most diverse and largest arsenals of ballistic missiles in the middle east. obviously, that's a threat to allies like israel. very concerned about that. and the united states has maintained one of the main purposes was to deliver a nuclear warhead. and they now believe the united states believes that they have stopped that program. so those sanctions in place literally hours after the settlement of the nuclear deal. and the president pointed out there are still other sanctions in place on iran for funding terrorism and human rights violations.
there's still that. >> there is that indeed. thank you, nbc's ron allen at the white house. let's go to ali in tehran for us. so let's talk about the president's announcements. particularly those of new sanctions being imposed on individuals and companies, but overall, that will go, i guess, to the government of iran as well. how will that be received? >> i don't think it's going to be received particularly well, although i don't think it's going to come as a shock to the government here. they were probably warned these sanctions were coming while they were making the deal to release the prisoners here. we'd heard rumors that i can't confurm that the iranian foreign minister warned if those sanctions were imposed it may compromise the release of the prisoners. they're not going to take it well here. the hard line establishment will use this as an excuse to say america is always trying to hurt
iran. the supreme leader always says america is the great enemy. and president rouhani has made a huge effort on the diplomatic front trying to get the nuclear deal done. he's not in charge of the army. the commander in chief is the supreme leader and some powerful people in the revolutionary guard. they make the security decisions for the country. they've been very clear about bolstering iran's nuclear program. they say it's a defense mechanism thatu r iran needs th nobody has the right to stop. they bolstered the program right after the deal was done. i don't think it came as a shock to the united states they were doing this, and i don't think it came as a shock to iran there were going to be sanctions because they were always going to go ahead with this missile program they see as their right. >> ali arouzi, thank you. some new revelations surrounding the prisoner swap.
a new report suggests u.s. diplomats thought the american prisoners would be released months ago and even shook on it with iranian counterparts in november. but proposed agreement was rejected in tehran until now. i want to bring in jessica schullburg for the huffington post. jessica is one of a handful of reporters who for months knew about these secret negotiations. something we talked about yesterday. there's a new angle to discuss today. what exactly happened? why did we think that we had secured the release and then discovered that wasn't the case? >> exactly what happened is still a little unclear. what we do know is that secretary of state john kerry thought that after the nuclear deal was finalized, things were looking better for the prisoners. he said in the last conversation he had with iran's foreign minister javod zarif, it's really important you get these prisoners out. if you want to show to the world that iran is willing to have a
neurtype of relationship, it's going to be hard to do that until these guys are let out of prison. he says zarif nodded and seemed to understand. there was a lot of movement. the next time the two men spoke was in vienna for syria talks and they had a side talk in zarif's hotel room. without going into details, kerry told reporters they reached some type of agreement. we don't know if that was the same one we saw yesterday? seems like maybe it was a little bit -- it probably didn't involve as many iranians. and we know when zarif took it back home, at least one agency in the government there rejected it, and they were forced to go back to the negotiating table. >> do we know the source of the rejection, what they specifically opposed? >> we don't. kerry made a deliberate point he didn't want to embarrass any particular part of the iranian government or lay blame anywhere. he was clear this was one part of the negotiating process that didn't work. we move forward. >> how about the process of picking and choose chicaing whi
prisoners would be swapped? >> the highest number publicly reported in terms of how many iranians the iranian government asked for was 19 or 20. last night kerry said they asked for a lot of prisoners. so it's unclear how high that was. what we do know is that today, the iranians being released are all convicted or accused of violating nuclear related sanctions which were lifted yesterday in vienna. in the original ask list there were people accused of violent crimes such as murder, drug charges. a much different group of people than we're looking at. >> so 19 and then reduced down to seven. seven was the final -- >> it could have been more than 19. >> i want to ask you about a couple of american citizens. siamak namazi and levinson.
do we know if any of them were mentioned in the deal? >> there's a written agreement between the iranians and u.s. as a result of this. in that written agreement, robert levinson is mentioned by name as someone the two countries are going to work together to uncover more information and keep lines of communication open. siamak namazi is a different story. they see the prisoner deal yesterday as a positive precedent for namazi that we can work together and move forward in a productive way. but i get the sense namazi was arrested too late to be included in this prison eer exchange. >> jessica, thank you. the expectations for the democratic presidential debate on nbc. it airs at d:00. what are the issues that could dominate. there's a more enjoyable way to get your fiber.
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we've achieved this historic progress through diplomacy without resorting to another war in the middle east. >> president obama at the white house this morning talking about the deal with iran. he said a smart, patient and disciplined approach to the world has seen results. let's bring in connecticut democrat congressman jim heinz. first your reaction to these big events of the last 24 hours. can you put it in perspective? >> sure. i think it is still too early to say the iran nuclear deal is an unqualified success. this is a ten-year plus deal. but to date, the worst fears of the critics have not been realized and the benefits, and i refer to the release of the ten sailors which could have turned into a god-awful international incident with them rotting in
prison for a long period of time, and the release of the prisoners and now iran being not two months away from a breakout to a nuclear weapon but a year away from a breakout to a nuclear weapon. so far what we've seen today and this week has strongly validated the value of diplomacy, of careful, patient negotiation. >> representative, you serve on the intelligence committee. did you van inkling these talks were unfolding for the prisoners and how difficult were these negotiations? >> i did not. on the committee, we are informed by law of those things that relate to intelligence, and this was not an intelligence operation. so i did not. there may hawell have been peop in the congress that did. it was closely held. what's interesting is a lot of people were critical of the president for the stutter step around imposing the sanctions for the ballistic missile test, including me. i was not happy with the white
house saying we're going to do it and then pulling back. we've come to learn there are all kinds of negotiations going on what was probably a high stakes and very difficult poker game being played. so now we have the prisoners back. the iran deal is being implemented and the president after those things happened as he announced today is doing the right thing and imposing sanctions for the violations with regards to ballistic missiles. all of this says we've got to remember we're in a very complicated poker game. >> you think this opens a new era in u.s./iran relations? >> it's dangerous to be naive about iran. iran has an absolutely appalling regime. terrible on human rights. destabilizing in the middle east. we ought to not do frankly what some of the presidential dand candidates on the republican side are urging us to do which is to either carpet bomb or impose religious tests or not ever engage in dialogue with
iran. the reality is this is a very complicated country where people want to be engaged with the world. an awful lot of iranians like us and don't much like that regime. we ought to do what this administration is doing -- has been doing which is trying to talk to that portion of the iranian population and make the case that they could be a good deal more prosperous and more welcomed into the community of nations if they just move towards a more open accountable and liberal and modern world. what the president said today when he addressed the american people. >> how is this going to play out at the nbc/youtube debate tonight? >> it's not going to produce much controversy among the democratic candidates. the split has been among the republicans who are talking about carpet bombing and religious tests for admissions of refugees. i suspect both bernie sanders and hillary clinton and governor o'malley will recognize that
this diplomacy led to good outcomes. without being naive. this is far from a done deal. iran could cheat a year from now, a day from now. the worst predictions of the most cynical have proven wrong. >> if you can categorize this with iran's compliance, how much do they still remain a global threat? >> well, you know, they are certainly a regional threat. they still have proxy forces. hezbollah in lebanon. they are still operating in iraq and syria. by the way, in syria. they are operating to an end that is consistent with something we're trying to do which is to eradicate isis. that's another area where, as very difficult as it is for us to formally work with a regime like the iranians where we have an aligned interest. nobody should make a mistake of thinking the iranian regime is all of a sudden a great group of guys that are going to be acting in ways we'd hope.
but we are in a very different world than a year ago when this appalling regime was two months from breakaway on a nuclear weapon and where those sailors had been captured two years ago, we'd probably still be looking at pictures of them in prison. >> thanks for your insights. the dramatic developments coincide with a big political weekend ending with the democratic debate in south carolina. kristen welker joins me from the site of that debate. what kind of preview of the candidates giving us and how are they going to address iran when it most certainly comes up? >> both candidates are praising the fact the five u.s. detainees were released. both saying that it underscores the fact that diplomacy can work. secretary clinton touting the fact that she helped to lay the groundwork for this deal when she served as secretary of state. also taking a very hard line
calling for sanctions because of iran's missile -- nuclear missile program -- i shouldn't say nuclear missile program. that it's tested nuclear missiles. and it comes as we're seeing these polls tighten in iowa and new hampshire. however, our latest nbc news/"wall street journal" poll shows secretary clinton with a 25-point lead. on the sunday shows, both of them talked about the state of the race. take a listen. >> i always thought this was going to be close, and i can't speak for anybody else, but i've worked as hard as i can to build an organization in iowa. i feel very good about where we are. but we're going to just keep working until the very last caucus is decided on february 1st. >> secretary clinton and her campaign understand that, you know, they are losing ground. we started this campaign off at 3% in the polls and now we're closing in in iowa. doing really well in new
hampshire. in the next two weeks a lot of nonsense being thrown around. >> so you're seeing the battle lines sharpen. the attacks sharpen from both of these campaigns. and i think we'll see a lot of fireworks here tonight. i am in the media filing center. this is where the reporters work, file their reports. we also interview officials with all of the campaigns. some of the top aides have already started to arrive. you can feel the excitement and anticipation for what promises to be a very contentious debate tonight. >> it's 7 hours and 35 minutes and counting. just saying. thank you, kristen welker. remember the democratic candidates debate airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern on nbc. in a moment we'll speak with former michigan governor jennifer granholm. the orders were rushing in. i could feel our deadlines racing towards us. we didn't need a loan. we needed short-term funding fast. building 18 homes in 4 ½ months?
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geneva. they are expect toed to be flowo a u.s. air base in germany. president obama lauded the nuclear deal and release of the americans as a victory for diplomacy but he also said new sach sanctions will be imposed on iran. candidates are giving us a taste of how they'll address the developments out of iran. that issue was brought up on the debate stage. here's hillary clinton this morning. >> we're going to watch iran like the proverbial hawk. and when it comes to the missile program, they are under u.n. security council sanctions, and if they are violating it, which the evidence seems to suggest, they should be held accountable. they need to know that this is a good step forward with respect to the nuclear weapons program. but there are other areas of their behavior that we're going to continue to be focused on. >> joining me from charleston is
jennifer granholm and a supporter of hillary clinton. governor, it's nice to have you here. welcome. >> thank you so much for having me on. >> secretary clinton made these comments after calling for new sach sanctions on iran. what do you think her political calculation is by calling for these new sanctions? >> i think she honestly wants to send a message to iran that it's not over, meaning that there's going to be continual enforcement. there will be continual eyeballs on this. it's not a political calculation as much as it is just reality checking. if they are doing testing of missiles that is not agreed to under the agreement, then there will be additional steps that are taken on the part of the u.s. particularly if she's president she'll make sure she holds them accountable. tonight because of the debate tonight, this issue about how diplomacy works and how her role in getting the sanctions, i think, will be a key issue.
it's a point of certainly, i don't know if it's contrast so much as gravitas, a level of experience that she brings to this role. >> do you think she's looking ahead to the general election with this more hawkish stance. do you think that's why? you remember that when the agreement was reached, she issued a very comprehensive statement about the agreement, about how she supports the agreement but that we will not, for example, abandon our ally israel and that we'll do everything to make sure they are protected and that we'll be continuing to watch iran. this is not a pass essentially. i don't think that either of the other two on the democratic side would disagree that it is important to continue to watch iran but also to make sure that diplomacy is given its full due in this global world where we've got so many adversaries who
potentially could come against us. we need all of our allies and all of the nations to be able to -- especially combat terrorism, isis and extremist regimes. >> are you concerned at all, though, that they could tie, particularly independent voters by putting secretary clinton's tenure at the state department, intertwine that with president obama's foreign policy? >> i think that her tenure at the state department should absolutely be on the table. she's proud of it and should be. and it's true with having served with president obama, the -- there is no doubt that this is a complex world and that certain things have happened that nobody could have anticipated. but her role as secretary of state in ensuring these sanctions were in place in making sure that we had relations with countries that we were not so -- not so close to before.
the pivots to both asia, to resetting with russia, all of that as well as her work in economic diplomacy which is really important. really important arrow in the quiver of diplomats is making sure you have diplomatic ties. her tenure as secretary of state is a fantastic credential for the general and the primary. >> governor, the new nbc news/"wall street journal" poll shows bernie sanders outperformed secretary clinton in a one-on-one, head-to-head matchup against donald trump. does this suggest at all that he could be a better general election candidate than the person you're supporting? >> well, let me just say this. >> there are reasons why the republicans are hoping he's the candidate. there's a reason she is the target of so much of their mentions and their debates, the ads that are being taken out is
because they see her as the deepest threat. if you look at some of the gallop polling, there's about 25% of the electorate who don't know bernie sanders at all. while secretary clinton has been vetted and we know everything about her. her whole past has been turned inside out, that hasn't happened so much with bernie sanders. it will be in a general election. it's a fair question to ask. she will be the best one to take it on, take it to the republicans in the general. and that poll you talked about shows her as 25 points up nationally. so i think democrats see her as the strongest candidate to take it to the republicans as well. >> i'm going to throw you a question out of left field. i understand you were born in cancan. with regard to ted cruz, does that make him ineligible or ought he be able to run for president? >> well, it is funny. i was born in canada but my
parents were clearly canadian so i clearly would not be eligible. this issue has been raised a lot. those who have looked at it and noted the supreme court has not passod this are accurate. they haven't passod it. if they did pass on this, you can imagine that they would say he'll probably be eligible. if you are a strict constructionist of the u.s. constitution, you know, it is a question. ted cruz is a strict constructionist and originalist, if you will. and if you just look at the very language of the constitution, what is native born mean? what does -- you cannot -- i don't know. it's a good question. and i do think that trump is on to something insane that it should be. this should be litigated before the final decision is made. >> all right. well, jennifer granholm, thank you for your time. enjoy the debate tonight. i know you will. >> i sure will. thanks. >> i want to remind all of you,
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>> that sounds like a friend and colleague. we all join you with that. but continue -- >> it was a very important -- i think in the overall scheme of things, whether you agree with president obama or not, on many issues, it's incontrovertible that he's been a president of consequence. and this iran deal is part of that. foreign policy, not just what he's done with iran but opening up relations with cuba. obviously, the syrian problem is one that he's not resolved and where he's open to criticism in terms of the horrors that happen there and whether he could have moved quicker to prevent some of that. many domestuc policy issues from gay rights, gays in the military to the keystone pipeline decision to emphasizing solar versus coal, consumer protection, whether you agree with any of those issues or not, it's hard to argue he hasn't been consequential. >> here's an interesting passage
from your book, the biography about obama. as he worked his way through the traumas and troubles of his young life, he developed what one close friend called -- how did that shape his personality? >> he's a perfectionist and realist. as a community organizer, his motto was hope for the world you want it to be but deal with the world the way it is. before he became president he had less experience deal with foreign policy. he's learned on the job but he's always tried to approach it from a rational perspective but seeking the best possible outcomes. and that can leave him open to criticism that perhaps at times he's too naive. in terms of both iran and cuba and other places around the world, it's still too early to make a final judgment. >> in his final state of the union speech, the president
brought back a major theme of the '08 campaign, change. mentioning it a total of 23 times. at the end, where are we on hope and change? >> hope is another matter. and you see a lot of anger instead of hope in this campaign. a reaction in many ways to president obama. for a lot of different reasons. both personal and political. and having to do with the economics of the country and the demographics of the country. but i saw that speech as both an echo of his -- the that made him famous in the first place. the 2004 keynote address where he was talking about trying to bring people together over red states and blue states and then combining that with change. i think that as i said first, he has accomplished far more change than people are willing to give them credit for. partly because of his personality. that appearance ever being
reserved and aloof and not dealing well with congress. a lot has been done. whether that changes the way the country views him or views politics is another matter. >> so if he's using his last state of the union speech as a shot to try to frame his own legacy, how do you think he did? >> i think it was a rational speech. it was wistful. a certain almost overtone of sadness to it in terms of the world and the country that he's dealing with. and it's all relative to what's going on in the nation right now. he was delivering that speech in a time of enormous bluster and anger, particularly on the republican side. so it had sort of a disinence in terms of a contrast with that. that's part of what he was trying to do. he's a rational man dealing in a somewhat irrational society right now. >> you've written extensively about bill clinton as well. how will their legacies compare? >> bill clinton's legacy, to a
large degree, had to do with the economy of the 1990s. but economies change decade by decade, year by year. the lasting impacts of that are more difficult to gauge than the lasting impacts of what president obama has done, particularly in terms of obamacare. but every action that president obama has taken is still vulnerable to who is elected president after him. >> i'm curious, about bill clinton. do you think he is excited about being back in the white house and have you come up with a term for that role? first husband? first gentlemen? first dude? >> it's hard for me to envision the big guy in the east wing. i just don't know how that's going to work. but i always said when he left the presidency and people said, what is he going to do for the rest of his life, i said he'll run for president for the rest of his life.
that's the essence of who bill clinton is whether he's literally or figuratively doing that. i imagine he'll find some way to take joy out of being first man or dude or the big guy or the first whatever he is. >> thanks so much. thank you, david marinass, author of "barack obama." we'll have a look at who else will be questioning the candidates next. ing as well tments through good times and bad. for over 75 years, our clients have relied on us to bring our best thinking to their investments so in a variety of market conditions... you can feel confident... ...in our experience. call a t. rowe price retirement specialist or your advisor ...to see how we can help make the most of your retirement savings. t. rowe price. invest with confidence.
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live pictures giving you a look at where it's all going to happen seven hours from now. south carolina, the site of the last democratic presidential debate before the iowa caucuses, and, remember, the debate airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern on nbc. well, the candidates won't just be questioned by "nbc nightly news" anchor lester holt and andrea mitchell, but also by four youtube stars selected to participate. msnbc's jhere with a look at wh it might not be what you're thinking. >> on the heels of the president sitting down with three youtube creators at the white house this past friday, we will have four different youtube stars here to question hillary clinton, bernie sanders, and martin o'malley at the nbc news/youtube debate in charleston, south carolina. and lest you think a debate with youtube stars will be all about the whisper challenge and wolverine cat, think again. there's quite a substantive
history of youtube participating in presidential debates. i'm thinking back to 2007 when here in charleston, south carolina, i was here for first ever youtube debate. hillary clinton and barack obama were posed a question by a youtube creator about whether or not they would directly engage with hostile nations and the answer we got was hillary clinton said she would not engage with nations like iran and president obama said he would directly engage with nations like iran, north korea, venezuela, and syria. and fast forward today, interested with the iranian deal and the prisoner swap of this weekend. >> thanks for the preview. appreciate that. and for all of you, if you are just joining us, an update on the breaking news. the swiss foreign minister has confirmed to nbc three americans released from iran have arrived in geneva. they are expected to be flown to a u.s. air base in germany. the three were among five americans released from iranian custody following yesterday's
implementation of the iran deal. president obama today said he is hopeful this signals an opportunity for iran to work more cooperatively with nations around the world but the president also said new sanctions will be imposed on iran over some recent missile tests. let's bring in elise jordan, the former communications direct for the national security administration. also a former speechwriter for condoleezza rice. with a welcome to you. it's been a good day. the president has said that. as somebody who worked in a republican administration, is this a good day? >> i personally think it's always a good day when americans are released from prison abroad and so i think no matter where your politics lie, we can all be happy as americans that these five americans who were unjustly imprisoned were released, and you can also see how much the activism on behalf of these prisoners meant and how it is important no matter what our relations might be with another state to keep advocating forcefully for an end to these
human rights abuses. >> i'm curious, given this just long detente of silence between these countries and not negotiating, how significant is this going forward that we are talking? >> i think it's extremely significant. you see what happened this week with sailors in the persian gulf and what happened with the irans and the brits back in 2007. they had sailors detained for 12 days and because we had established high-level communications, it was a relatively painless exercise, although, of course, the iranians did get their propaganda value. >> was there ever a point during the bush administration where there was an opportunity to open up the lines of communication with iran? >> well, actually immediately after 9/11 iran did cooperate with the intervention in afghanistan and going to war in afghanistan so there was a slight seemingly thaw, but with iran and the hardliners, tensions developed and we came to where we are 25today, but i
think this is a good day. we should be cautiously optimistic that iran still has horrific behavior in the region, what they're doing in syria and fueling terrorism, but i do think that at least this is a positive first step. >> do you think there's any way to interpret the totality of what has happened this week as not being really a domino effect? i mean, would there have been this prisoner release, this exchange, were it not for the lifting of the sanctions, this implementation day going into effect yesterday? >> well, i don't think so. i think you have cause and effect, carrot and stick. they have been at the negotiating table for quite some time. these things have to be incentivized. you look at the prisoner swap some people are criticizing, but we are essentially releasing seven prisoners who are held because of sanction violations, and those sanctions are now lifted. >> elise jordan, thank you for weighing in. a little longer next time. a lot of breaking news today. for all of you, we'll be having
the nbc democratic debate tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern time. that is where it will happen. take a look at that stage. that whole auditorium will be filled up in a few hours. that's a wrap of the show. up next, "meet the press." i'll see you next weekend. i'm here at my house, on thanksgiving day and i have a massive heart attack right in my driveway. the doctor put me on a bayer aspirin regimen. be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen. go talk to your doctor. you're not indestructible anymore. you're all set to book a flight using your airline credit card miles.
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